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What happened to Celine Dion? Her incurable condition, explained

The celebrated singer suffers from a rare neurological disorder.

Celebrated singer Celine Dion‘s fans have been in turmoil since they learned that the 54-year-old suffers from a rare neurological condition.

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Dion announced her diagnosis via a 2022 Instagram update, and also broke the news that several of her tour dates were canceled and rearranged. Eight of the shows initially planned for Summer 2023 were officially canceled, and all of the singer’s Spring 2023 shows were pushed forward to Spring 2024. In the meantime, Dion assured fans that she’d be working with a stellar team of doctors, prioritizing her health, and working to overcome Stiff Person Syndrome. Unfortunately, within a half year of first making her announcement, Dion accepted that she wouldn’t be able to tour in 2024, and canceled her Courage World Tour for good.

Dion’s announcement was the first time many people had ever heard of the rare condition, leading inquiries about Stiff Person Syndrome to skyrocket in the wake of the news. The condition affects “every part” of Dion’s “daily life,” according to the singer, and has made keeping up with her career, and everyday life, a challenge.

What is Stiff Person Syndrome?

Celine Dion - Getty
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Stiff Person Syndrome (SPS) might sound like a funny diagnosis for your favorite party pooper, but in reality, it’s a serious medical condition. The neurological disorder shared traits with an autoimmune disease, according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS). The condition is characterized by “fluctuating muscle rigidity in the trunk and limbs and a heightened sensitivity to stimuli such as noise, touch, and emotional distress, which can set off muscle spasms.”

Stiff Person Syndrome, much like it sounds, affects the muscles across a person’s body. Those who suffer from it often find themselves wary of being in public, out of fear of a loud noise triggering a muscle spasm, and commonly end up with hunched or stiff posture as a result of their affliction.

The disease affects twice as many women as men, and Dion is one of roughly one million people who suffer from the illness. Its causes remain unknown, but research indicates that it may be “the result of an autoimmune response gone awry in the brain and spinal cord,” according to the NINDS. It crops up most commonly in people aged between 30 and 60.

Is Stiff Person Syndrom curable?

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SPS remains incurable, but there are a few methods to relieve its worst symptoms. These include painkillers to manage pain, as well as anti-convulsants, muscle-relaxing medications, anti-anxiety drugs, and intravenous immune globulin (IVIg).

Those who suffer from Stiff Person Syndrome tend to more commonly experience falls, due to their lack of muscle control. An added risk, once again due to their unresponsive muscles, can lead to far more severe injuries from these falls, as many afflicted people will find themselves unable to properly arrest an unexpected fall.

What is the life expectancy for someone with Stiff Person Syndrome?

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The life expectancy for someone with an SPS diagnosis varies, depending on the availability of medical care, age, and several other factors. Everyone reacts differently to treatment, and the rate of decline is a major factor in the overall prognosis for someone with the condition. The overall life expectancy comes in at between 6 to 28 years from the onset of the condition, according to ameripharma. It is unclear exactly how long Dion has been grappling with the disorder, but her crack team of medical professionals, as well as the care she is taking regarding her health, should spell good news for fans of the Canadian artist.

How is Celine Dion handling her condition?

A year after Dion first broke news of her diagnosis with the world, her sister gave an update on the singer’s condition. Unfortunately, her battle with SPS continues to take a toll on the star, who reportedly struggles to control certain muscles. That’s a major culprit behind the cancelation of her Courage World Tour, but Dion’s sister Claudette assured fans that the 55-year-old star wants nothing more than to return to the stage.


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Nahila Bonfiglio
Nahila carefully obsesses over all things geekdom and gaming, bringing her embarrassingly expansive expertise to the team at We Got This Covered. She is a Staff Writer and occasional Editor with a focus on comics, video games, and most importantly 'Lord of the Rings,' putting her Bachelors from the University of Texas at Austin to good use. Her work has been featured alongside the greats at NPR, the Daily Dot, and Nautilus Magazine.